By Robyn Gordon
March 8, 2010
Last night’s 82nd Academy Awards saw film history made with the first woman ever winning the Oscar for Best Director. Kathryn Bigelow, director of the 2008 American war film, The Hurt Locker, which follows a United States Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team during the Iraq War, took home the Oscar over ex-husband James Cameron for his direction of Avatar, in addition to Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds. Bigelow is only the fourth woman in history and the second American woman to be nominated for the honor of Best Director, following Lena Wertmuller for Seven Beauties (1975), Jane Campion for The Piano (1993) and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003). Bigelow’s win is certainly appropriate in celebrating today’s International Women’s Day.
Bigelow, a graduate of Columbia University’s film program, began her film career in 1978 with The Set-Up, a 20-minute short deconstruction of violence in film. She then released her first feature-length film in 1982, The Loveless, a biker movie which she co-directed with Monty Montgomery. Other notable projects include Point Break (1991), Strange Days (1995), written and produced by her ex-husband, James Cameron, and 2002′s K-19: The Widowmaker, which starred Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. Following K-19, it would be six years, until The Hurt Locker, before Bigelow would return to the director’s seat.
Although Bigelow described her win as “the moment of a lifetime,” and Best Director presenter Barbra Streisand declared that finally “the time has come” for a female Best Director winner, Bigelow more importantly asserted that she “long[s] for the day when a [gender] modifier can be a moot point.” She ended her acceptance speech with a dedication to “the women and men who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan.”